Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Donna C. Owens, PhD


Taking care of persons with autism spectrum disorder is not easy, especially in a school setting where there are more rules and cultures to follow. There is high turnover among our staff. I have witnessed several staff leave our school because of the burden of the work. The experience made me disappointed. I am sure that our students feel the same way as I do; they just don’t know how to express their feelings when they realize staff is no longer with them. They trust the staff and the staff leave, sometimes even without saying goodbye. I was sad each time I knew someone left us. And of course, I was frustrated that I could not help prevent losing them. I started thinking how I can support the staff with this burden in our work environment. I created an expressive arts therapy group among staff at the residential program for their well-being. I wanted to learn if staff can be happier before starting their shift. I had six direct care staff participate in the project and facilitated three expressive arts sessions. They created together and enjoyed a drum circle. They reported their life condition was elevated, and they had a good start on their shift each week. There are many studies about autism spectrum disorder, but they are not focusing on caregivers, and I believe it is important since as the population of those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders is increasing, so are the number of caregivers.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
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